The Ethics of Street Photography

a face in the crowd
stranger on a bus

I like to take photos of strangers.

I rarely ask permission, this is because:

  1. I am shy
  2. I don’t like posed photographs
  3. There will probably be a language barrier as I speak very little Georgian or Russian and I live and work in Tbilisi

I post lots of these photos to Facebook and other social media. Sometimes I have been called up on this practice and asked if I would like strangers photographing me without asking and posting the pictures. Actually, I wouldn’t mind, although I am not a fan of photos of me.

Here are three I took today:

Here a photo of some backgammon players.

backgammon
backgammon players

Here a jubilant tourist in Rome, posing for another photographer.

jubilant

I am rarely noticed and there is little verbal interaction. Once I was scolded for taking photos of beggars in front of a church.

legless

Sometimes, I might take a photo to highlight an issue I feel strongly about, I don’t think people should smoke around children, for example.

smoking and kids

I am in a Facebook group called “chez pantalon rouge”, where members post photos of the public wearing red trousers.

P1320588
red trouser wearer

This is a topic I would like to look at in more detail (the ethics of street photography not red trouser wearers!), I’d be interested to know your views.

Caught in the Rain

May and June are the wettest months in Tbilisi, there can be sudden heavy downpours.girl in the rain

girl in the rain 2

It is a good idea to carry an umbrella with you. Although, some men consider it effeminate for a man to carry an umbrella. On some of the public toilets the symbol for men is a pipe and for women an umbrella.

In the 1750s, an Englishman, by the name of Jonas Hanway, began carrying an umbrella around the rainy streets of London.

People were outraged. Some bystanders hooted and jeered at Hanway as he passed; others simply stared in shock. Who was this strange man who seemed not to care that he was committing a social sin?

Hanway was the first man to parade an umbrella unashamed in 18th-century England, a time and place in which umbrellas were strictly taboo. In the minds of many Brits, umbrella usage was symptomatic of a weakness of character, particularly among men. Few people ever dared to be seen with such a detestable, effeminate contraption.

Citizens Observing Jonas Hanway with Newly Invented Umbrella
Jonas Hanway walking into the rain, with an umbrella. (Photo: Bettmann/Getty Images)

views

p1760979
Cable cars and Kartlis Deda

Walking down from Avlabari to Abanotubani in Tbilisi presents the viewer with a wonderful vista of Old Tbilisi. There are the old houses with balconies, the river Mtkvari and looking up the hill where the cable car goes there is a silhouette of Kartlis Deda. Kartlis Deda is a symbol for Georgia, she holds a cup of wine in one hand for guests and a sword in the other for enemies.